Sunday, August 2, 2015

PITCH WARS TIME: Mentor Bio and Wishlist



Hi everyone! I'm incredibly honored to be a YA mentor in this year's PITCH WARS, and I can't wait to see your beautiful manuscripts in my inbox! I could ramble on, but let's get right to the good stuff instead:

WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR -- YOUNG ADULT (YA) ONLY:

-Fantasy is my greatest love. I especially enjoy epic and historical. Have something like Lord of the Rings with a female-centered cast? I want it! (HUGE Tolkien fanatic here). Have the next Graceling, The Winner's Curse, or Girl of Fire and Thorns? Gimme! I also love fairytale retellings, especially any lesser-known fairytales. And please, give me all your dark fantasies!!!
-Ghost stories, provided they're original. I read heavily in this genre and could really help someone with a compelling ghost story. Keep me up all night and make me scared to go to the bathroom alone, and I'll be yours forever! Think something like the movie The Woman in Black or The Conjuring- not gory, but heavy on using atmosphere/setting to build tension. Or, if you have anything like Simon St. James's historical ghost stories with romance, that'd be a huge win!
-Historical, particularly with unusual time periods and/or interesting events. Pre-1920s preferred, with one exception: I'd love a YA version of the TV show Astronaut Wives' Club! And definitely no WWII-era settings, as they're outside my expertise/interest. However, if your book is set during The Great War (WWI), try me!
-Mysteries/Thrillers. A fresh take on the genre though, please! Also, I'm of the belief that most books should have some element of mystery in them. It helps keep readers turning the pages!
-Sci-Fi. I love sci-fi almost as much as fantasy! More character-driven and less technical though, please! To give you an idea of my tastes here, I'm a Browncoat. I also love Farscape, Stargate: Atlantis, Defiance, and the new show Dark Matter. Currently, I'd be most drawn to an earth-set sci-fi that's full of quirky and memorable characters a la SyFy Channel's Warehouse 13, Eureka, or Haven. But if you have awesome aliens and diversity in another world, please still give me a try--I adore anything with a Farscape feel and I've love to mentor in this genre!
-Southern Gothics. I'm a Southern belle (I even attended cotillion) who loves to be creeped out. If you have curses, sweet tea, spirits, and drama--send, send, send!

*Also, if you have anything that reads like the show True Detective Season 1, please share.

*Adding a special call-out here for any YA novel about Vikings. I've got Scandinavian heritage and would love a historical or alt history focused on Viking culture...and shieldmaidens!

*I don't normally read contemp, but here's a special call for the two types of contemp projects I'd look at: A YA version of Breaking Bad or Weeds (or if you put this concept in a fantasy? GIMME NOW) and a YA version of The Big Bang Theory.

*I love Avatar: the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra beyond reason. If you're a huge fan of either (hopefully both) of these shows, I know we'll get along!!! (Just to quickly add: what speaks to me about these shows are the themes of friendship, tolerance, bravery, and being true to yourself. I'd love to find a book with characters as strong and diverse as the casts of Avatar and Korra!)

IN ALL OF THE ABOVE, I'D LOVE TO SEE:

-LGBTQ+ , especially the L and B, but not coming-out stories. Bonus points if your ms is SFF!
-Building off that: diversity in all its forms--thoughtfully written, of course. Diversity in the authors submitting to me is welcomed and encouraged, too!
-Unique settings: from the Amazon to the Arctic to ancient empires...take me somewhere new!
-Love stories: I love being in love. Give me a romance that sweeps me off my feet (steamy scenes are great, by the way-I'm an advocate for sex in YA!), but I'd prefer that romance isn't the sole focal point of your novel.
-Family relationships: Siblings, parents, and/or grandparents often play important role in teens' lives. Send me novels that deal with these complex relationships!
-Structural quirks: send me your multi-POV novel, or stories told in reverse!
-My dream manuscript is also a perfect blend of commercial and literary. Basically, a high-concept plot balanced with lyrical writing and excellent pacing.
-Oh, and in case this wasn't clear enough, I love a strong female heroine. Especially one who doesn't need to put her male counterparts down in order to show her strength! In my books, the girls go on the quests. The girls save princes. They also love and respect their male friends!

BUT I'M NOT THE RIGHT PERSON FOR:

Contemporary (see the two exceptions above!)
Dystopian
Horror that's gory.
Novels in verse
-Anything dealing with animal abuse; hits too close to home because of my rescue pups.
-Anything involving rape/sexual abuse
-Gratuitous/excessive torture. If you have characters like the Boltons from Game of Thrones, your novel is absolutely not for me!
-No angels, demons, or were-anything, please! *Edited to add: But I love fairies!

MY FAVORITE AUTHORS INCLUDE:

The obvious first: Tolkien, Rowling, Gaiman
Patricia McKillip
Garth Nix
Charles de Lint
Tamora Pierce
Libba Bray
Laini Taylor
Ann Bishop
Rae Carson
Spencer Quinn

ABOUT ME (Aka, why you want me as your mentor!):

-I'm a soon-to-be-published author. My debut YA historical fantasy novel Fear the Drowning Deep comes out in September 2016 from Sky Pony!
-I've got a good amount of industry knowledge and insight accumulated over the past several years. I'm represented by Christa Heschke at McIntosh and Otis Literary, and can give you advice and guidance on the path to traditional publishing!
-I write across all age levels of children's literature, from YA to picture books!
-I won contests while querying, including the one that landed my agent!
-I've mentored in several other contests like Query Kombat, Sun vs. Snow, and Nightmare on Query Street! I've helped many writers polish their queries and manuscripts, and formed lasting friendships with my mentees from previous contests. I've also had several CPs sign with agents in the past year!
-If you want total honesty in your critique, combined with kindness and support that won't end when the contest does! Choose me, and I'll whip your manuscript into fighting shape--all the while pointing out your strengths and helping you sharpen your writing skills! And occasionally making you laugh.
-I'll school you in everything from voice to story structure and pacing! I'll clarify your action scenes and help you streamline your world building, something I've worked hard on this year! I can help you bring settings to life and craft a compelling romance if there's love in your story!
-If you aren't afraid to work hard, truly want to improve your writing, and hopefully make a friend for life, I'm your gal!

If you choose me, you'll get this genius in the mix, too! ;)
*When I'm not working on my books, I'm spending time with my four rescued greyhounds. I work to raise awareness about puppy mills like the one my Italian greyhounds Romeo & Juliet were saved from. I'm a proud nerd, and love playing video games and card/board games (Star Realms, 7 Wonders, or Lords of Waterdeep, anyone? I'm a big fan of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop, too!) with my equally nerdy husband. I also attend events like FaerieCon and AwesomeCon to celebrate all things magical and nerdy.

These are some of my crazies!

*My love for Harry Potter (Slytherin represent!) is rivaled only by my love for my husband (a Ravenclaw) and rescue pups!

These are more of my crazies. Yep, I have a dog circus!
*I like to relax by painting with watercolors. If your book inspires me, I might paint you a little something!

*I still think vampires are cool.

*I met Tamora Pierce one time and it was bloody amazing. Pick me as your mentor and maybe some of my Tamora-Pierce-meeting luck will rub off on you? ;)

Tammy. She's incredibly kind and made me glad I've looked up to her for so long!

I keep adding to this post, but whatever. Here's me acting stupid with Milo Ventimiglia (Jess from Gilmore Girls/Peter Petrelli from Heroes!)
*You can find out more about me by checking out my Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Instagram. Please do this--if I'm one of your top mentor choices, engaging me on social media like Twitter will be a great way for us to get to know each other while I'm trying to decide on a mentee!

*Here are a couple of interviews I've done, if you want to read more about me and my writing:

Query, Sign, Submit with Sarah Marsh on Write for Apples

Team Rogue YA Introductory Post with Sarah Marsh

***All that being said: I understand what it's like to put yourself out there by entering your work in these sorts of contests. I'm shy, and understand some of you might be, too. So, I promise to treat you with the utmost respect if you reach out to me!

ALSO NOTE:

-If I love your query and first chapter, I will most definitely be requesting additional pages and a full synopsis of your work, so make sure you have one polished and ready to send off! Also, be prepared for me to ask about your query history with this book. If a book hasn't been seen by many agents yet, it'll have a better chance in this contest!

-Please include comp titles in your query. Bonus points if they're for books I've enjoyed or TV shows I love (a few are mentioned in this list, but others include Castle, Supernatural, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, Vikings, Agents of SHIELD. Lighter things include Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Friends, and The Big Bang Theory).

-Additionally, please don't sub to me if I've critiqued some or all of your work before. If you're a CP or past mentee, you already get to pick my brain, and I'm always just an email away! I want this opportunity to go to someone new.

I LIED, HERE'S ONE LAST NOTE--ON SUBBING TO ME AND FEEDBACK:

*If I request pages from you, I'll tell you where I stopped reading and why.

*If you sub to me at all and I'm passing on your pitch, I'll give a brief explanation as to why. 

Also, the cover reveal for my debut FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP is happening over on Pop! Goes the Reader today, so if you're inclined, please go check out the pretty and ENTER TO WIN AN ARC!!! YAY!

AND NOW, GO CHECK OUT THE OTHER AMAZING MENTORS:
 
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